Purposely Understaffing: Effective Cost Cutter, But a Business Killer

business cross-cuttingOne of the biggest things people hate in Walmart superstores is the fact that their lanes are empty. It’s been a major subject of Internet ire, and some trolls even dedicate memes for it. It really is that bad, and even though Walmart is a too-big-to-fail enterprises, it’s not winning them any love. They provide necessities, and that’s probably what’s keeping them afloat.

Not many businesses have the same luxury of forcing their customers to make do with what’s available. Those in the same industry as Walmart, but not as big, do fail. So, new businesses should take note: it’s never safe to serve customers insufficiently, nevermind repeatedly doing it. Furthermore, the right thing isn’t always the right thing, especially in business.

An Interest in Failure

Clayton Christensen is a Harvard Business school professor who has a certain interest in how enterprises meet their demise. Back in ’97, he wrote The Inventor’s Dilemma and until now, executives and business head honchos use it as a reference. The most quoted part of his book is how doing the right thing is the wrong thing. He used “mainframe” computer manufacturers and their downfall, which is focusing on a niche market.

 Proving an Unseen Truth

Many business owners, a lot of whom are influential, couldn’t care at how long customers wait in lines as long as they buy their products. Anyone who needs proof should turn to a counter for people. More specifically, this software tracks desk activity to determine how many customers one service unit serves.

More often than not, they’ll see a predictable result: it keeps business flowing. But that’s one counter with a long line. It’s an innovation to keep one counter open, cut staff costs and wait hours in lines to diminish. Progress is opening a certain amount of counters, which is something defined by the amount of customers in the store.

New Kinds of Giants

Retail stores, especially fashion companies, keep staff roaming and helping customers. They also keep counters open, help fetch clothes and inform about newer stocks. It’s not economical, but look at how fast they grow. H&M is one, and so is Uniqlo. They’re not as old and established, but they value progress over anything.

There’s time for downtime, and that’s recess. Even then, businesses can’t afford to keep the floor devoid of staff. Instead, make sure that the points of sale are always ready to take in business.